President Obama has declared the week of May 5-11 as National Charter Schools Week. He called on communities to support charter schools and the students they serve. He described charter schools as “incubators of innovation” and models of reform for other schools. He also said this:
Yesterday, the nine-member charter school commission met in Bellevue for its second meeting. The commission is still getting organized. It has the important job of approving some of Washington state’s first charter public schools.
In the wake of last fall's voter-approved Initiative 1240, parent-led groups interested in opening charter schools in their communities are starting to emerge. Debbie Cafazzo at The News Tribune reports on parents' intentions to pursue charter school applications in their local Tacoma and Peninsula school districts.
The new nine-member state Charter School Commission held its first meeting on April 4th in Olympia. The commission has set up a website, here. Their meeting focused on reviewing essential laws and procedures. The agenda for the April 4 meeting is available here.
Austin Jenkins reports that last Friday, public school mom Jennifer Harjehausen, from Kent, drove to Olympia to testify at a public hearing. She told lawmakers that parents have to buy school supplies:
“We gave Sharpies to my kids’ teacher for Christmas," she said. "I mean come on. The PTA buys disinfectant for the computer lab. We have to provide our own trash can liners when we hold an event. That is crazy.”
Last week I attended a fascinating presentation sponsored by the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the UW - a story about saving a Catholic school in Seattle and the lessons it holds for public education.
Next Friday, April 26th, Geoffrey Canada will be the keynote speaker for Stand for Children’s Changing the Odds luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel in Seattle. Geoffrey Canada is the president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a nonprofit that provides a variety of services to help low-income children and families in New York City.
Yesterday, SB 5496, “Authorizing Approval of Online School Programs in Private Schools,” passed the House of Representatives, 97-0. The Senate passed it last month, 47-0. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.
Education officials at the Yakima School District have signed the district up to become an authorizer of charter schools, making a total 13 districts, up from the 12 districts I reported on April 2. The State Board of Education has updated its website to include the Yakima School District.
Readers of this blog know Washington Policy Center recommends creating A–F letter grades for school performance in Washington, as eleven other states do, to inform parents and the community how their local school is doing. Yesterday, Seattle Times reporter Brian Rosenthal, who has stayed on top of the issue, wrote that Governor Inslee confirmed his support for letter grades for schools.
USA Today published an editorial Monday about new research showing students attending high-quality charter schools, like KIPP, learn better than similar students in conventional public schools. USA Today says Mathematica Policy Research reports that at KIPP charter schools:
Breaking news: Reform-minded Senator Litzow (R-Mercer Island) and Senator Tom (D-Bellevue) just introduced a bill to reward excellence in the schools. It is SB 5901, available here. I am reading through it now. Here is what the bill does that jumps out at me:
Yesterday the State Board of Education announced the school districts which have expressed interest in allowing students in their communities access to charter schools.
There are 12 districts: Battle Ground School District, Eastmont School District, Kent School District, Peninsula School District, Sequim School District, Sunnyside School District, Bellevue School District, Highline School District, Naselle School District, Port Townsend School District, Spokane School District and Tacoma School District.
Executives at the Washington Education Association union (WEA) on Friday issued a hard-hitting email leveled against six bipartisan education reform leaders in the state Senate, two Democrats and four Republicans. WEA executives claim these lawmakers are “shirking their duty” to provide amply for the education of children living within the borders of our state, as the constitution requires.
Last week, Brooke Beresh, mother of a 1st grade student at John Hay Elementary in Seattle, told the House Education Committee that parents are hungry for easy-to-understand information about their schools. The House Education Committee was considering ESSB 5328, which would officially assign letter grades to schools based on the State Achievement Index.